Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt upset the odds at Indian Wells by rolling back the years to beat big-serving American John Isner 6-7 6-3 6-4 at the BNP Paribas open.
Hewitt, who won at Indian Wells in 2002 and 2003, was given little chances by 15th seed Isner but when given an inch, the plucky Aussie made sure he took a mile to close out the match in just over two hours.
32-year-old Hewitt has not olayed as many matches or tournaments as he would like due to persistent injury, but he admitted that it is a confidence boost beating a big name.
“It’s nice to beat a big name,” Hewitt told reporters after ousting Isner, who reached last year’s final at Indian Wells where he was beaten by Roger Federer in straight sets.
“John’s obviously a tough match for anyone to play, and especially coming off a good result here last year.
“The last couple of years I haven’t played that much, I guess. I missed this tournament through surgery last year but in the past I have always played pretty well here. I felt pretty comfortable today.”
Hewitt will next face Stanislas Wawrinka after the 18th-seeded Swiss came from a set down to beat American Wayne Odesnik 3-6 6-2 6-1.
Defending champion Roger Federer breezed into the fourth round after a very comfortable 6-3 6-1 victory over Ivan Dodig. Federer was given little to think about during the game and dispatched the Croatian in just 61 minutes. The former world number one and second seed is still seeking his first title this year, and remains on course for a mega showdown with Rafael Nadal. Federer will take on either Lleyton Hewitt or fellow countryman Stanislas Wawrinka next.
Rafael Nadal had the easiest round of all after his opponent, Leonardo Mayer, withdrew with a back injury before the start of their third-round match.
Nadal however had sympathy for his stricken opponent.
“That’s bad news, for sure, for the fans and for Mayer, especially,” the world number five told reporters at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. “I talked with him. It seemed like it’s nothing very, very bad.
“Just a typical back problem, beginning when he was warming up his serve. The physio says maybe in four days, five days he will be ready.”
“That’s the most important thing, that nothing is serious,” said the Spaniard, who was sidelined for seven months last year by a left knee injury.
Nadal is a two time champion at Indian wells, and now faces Ernests Gulbis after the Latvian neat Andreas Seppi 5-7 6-3 6-4. Spaniard Nadal, remains on course for a mouth-watering quarter final with his old foe Roger Federer.